Federal Trade Commission Releases Annual Complaints Summary Showing Decline in Debt Collection Reports

The report shows trends in debt collection, identity theft and scams based on complaints submitted to the FTC, other regulators and law enforcement.

3/15/2019 1:00 PM

Federal Trade Commission Releases Annual Complaints Summary Showing Decline in Debt Collection Reports

Consumer complaint reports on debt collection declined from 2017 to 2018, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s 2018 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book.

The report is a summary of consumer complaints in the network, a secure online database, according to an article on the data from The National Law Review.

When it comes to debt collection reports, (such as repeated calls or failure to send written notice of a debt), complaints declined by 24 percent, to 16 percent of all reports, from 2017, according to the article.

Additional highlights, according to The National Law Review, from the report include:

  • Imposter scams represent the most consumer complaints, totaling 18 percent of the nearly 3 million reports summarized in the Data Book. After debt collection at 16 percent, identity theft represents 15 percent of the consumer complaint reports.
  • Consumers reported more than 535,000 imposter scams, nearly half involving “government imposters that falsely claimed to be from the [Internal Revenue Service], Social Security Administration, other government agency to get victims to turn over money and/or personal information.”
  • Credit card fraud was the most prevalent among identity theft reports. The FTC received more than 167,000 reports from consumers who said “that their information was either misused on an existing account or used to open a new credit card account.
  • “The Data Book also separately analyzes reports made by military consumers, including active duty service members, military dependents, inactive reserve members, and veterans. Of 122,519 total reports by military consumers, imposter scams top the list at 29 percent of the reports, followed by identity theft at 23 percent. In contrast to the general population, however, debt collection reports account for only about 5 percent of the total reports by military consumers.”

The Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book reflects complaints received by the FTC, which notes they are based on “unverified reports filed by consumers” as well as other federal regulators and law enforcement agencies, stored in the Consumer Sentinel Network online database. The database is only accessible to law enforcement; however, the FTC releases a report summarizing the complaints each year.

The complete Consumer Sentinel Network Databook is available here.

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